PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — So far a total of 116 people in Oregon died from heat-related issues when the temperatures soared to record-shattering levels at the end of June. Many of them died in Southeast Portland, an area with basically no shade.
On Friday, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and State Rep. Khanh Pham were in the area around SE 82nd and all had thoughts on what can be done to mitigate events like this in the future.
Hardesty said there needs to be a better system of checking on the vulnerable people in the community.
“This is an area of the city of Portland that lacks tree canopy, it lacks green spaces that people can go and just cool off,” Hardesty told KOIN 6 News. “The mayor has just called for an all-city bureau effort to actually look at what do we need to put in place. I think we must work with the county as our health authority to make sure that first or emergency lines like 211 and 311 are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
“In this future where we’re facing a housing crisis as well as a climate crisis, we need more community centers that can serve as cooling centers, that can serve as disaster centers,” Pham said.
Blumenauer, long an advocate for addressing climate change on every level, said there is a need for cooling centers and green space.
“It’s also going to be part of redirecting what the federal government does,” Blumenauer said. “We’re going to be spending billions of dollars of disaster relief. Well, we were just talking, how do we spend those dollars so we have more sustainably?”
Another issue of concern is the worsening wildfires in the state and in the region. Hardesty, who is also the Portland fire commissioner, said the city is considering a permanent ban on fireworks.
She hopes the state will also consider banning fireworks and pointed to the fact that Portland sends fire fighters to fight wildfires throughout Oregon.